Review: Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

 
 

Director: Angela Robinson

Writers: Angela Robinson

Starring: Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, Bella Heathcote

Release Date: 10th November

 

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women chronicles the events and circumstances that resulted in the creation of the world’s most famous female superhero.

William Moulten Marston (Luke Evans) was a professor of psychology with a PhD from Harvard University. In addition to the Wonder Woman comics, he and his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) were responsible for inventing an early version of the lie detector.

Writer-Director Angela Robinson (the L Word) takes the creation of Wonder Woman as the backstory to tackle many issues experienced by the Marstons who lived in a polyamorous relationship with Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote). Refreshingly, the three polyamorous lovers have equal standing. There are kinky moments but Robinson manages to normalise the relationship with compassion and emotion. The bedroom scenes are shot tastefully and, although unconventional, don’t seem weird.

There are kinky moments but Robinson manages to normalise the relationship with compassion and emotion.

William is inspired by both women in his life to create Wonder Woman. Subtle cues such as Olive’s bangles worn throughout imply what’s to come. William describes the women as two halves of the perfect woman: “[Olive] is beautiful, guileless, kind, and pure of heart. [Elizabeth is] brilliant, ferocious, hilarious, and a grade A bitch.”

The film spans three decades in history between the 1920s to the 1940s and is beautifully made. The settings, props and costumes are gorgeous but don’t steal the attention away from the story. The non-linear storytelling works well to cover this expansive time period.

All three lead actors put on compelling performances. Evans plays the lively showman who entertains his psychology class with his charisma. Heathcote portrays Olive as intelligent and endearing. Meanwhile, Hall’s performance stands out as the feisty Elizabeth who does and says whatever she wants. For example, on one occasion Elizabeth asks William: “When are you going to stop justifying the whims of your cock with science?”

The trio hopes that Wonder Woman will advance the message of gender equality, especially among young readers.

All three of them were feminists. William teaches his all-female class about why he believes females should be in leadership positions. Elizabeth laments and appeals the fact that Harvard won’t accept her PhD application because she “doesn’t have a penis”. Olive’s childhood was also very interesting and shocks the Marstons when they find out.

The trio hopes that Wonder Woman will advance the message of gender equality, especially among young readers. The point is also made that the parents must stand for what they believe in or else they will instil shame in their kids.

Timing may be the smartest feature of this film’s release. It comes hot on the heels of the hugely successful Wonder Woman film and just a couple of weeks before the superhero appears on the big screen again in Justice League. Tellingly, the marketing surrounding this release looks very similar in style and colour to that used to promote Patty Jenkins’ film back in June.

It must also be pointed out that this film is only based on a true story. It is highly dramatized for effect. Some things like how William actively sought to get his comic published have noticeably been changed. In addition, Robinson couldn’t possibly know what went on behind the closed doors at the Marston’s house. William and Elizabeth’s granddaughter, Christie Marston, claims that the film is “based on someone’s imagination” and has started a Twitter campaign against its depiction of her family.

In a Nutshell: Fan of superheroes or not, this is a riveting tale of invention, imagination and rebellion against societal norms.

 

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